Winter Surfing in Cornwall – where to go and how to stay warm!

For surfers there’s something special about Cornwall in the winter; namely empty beaches, quiet roads, cold fresh winds and consistent surf. This is when the Atlantic Ocean really comes alive bringing great surf to the north Cornish shores. It’s not hard to imagine a morning of perfect waves, adrenalin fuelled moments with fellow surfers, followed by that post-surf high around a warming fire with a pie and a pint!

With some advice from WeAreCornwall, here are a few great recommendations of where to surf…

Fistral beach, Newquay

Just a 5-minute walk from the town centre is Newquay’s best break, Fistral beach. It picks up any north or northwest swell and breaks at its finest in clean punchy lines with south easterly winds. There’s parking at each end of the beach and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.

 Image by Fistral Beach

Towan beach, Newquay

This year-round winner really comes into its own when the temperatures dip and grey clouds looms. Sitting in the shadow of Pentire Head, it’s nice and sheltered so escapes the full brunt of winter swells and is the place to find more manageable conditions. Also handy to note, there are excellent facilities on the beach with free warm showers!

Whipsiddery beach, Newquay

When the swell is too big at legendary Fistral and too small at Towan, head to this spot which is just on the outskirts of Newquay. Be warned, there are hundreds of steps down to the beach.

Harlyn beach, Padstow

Another sheltered spot, Harlyn near Padstow, is a favourite hangout among surfers. There’s a beautiful sandy beach, parking on the headland, warming pubs and windy cliff top walks. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or facing the waves for the first time, Harlyn is a pretty awesome place to be.

 Image by Harlyn Surf School

Porthtowan beach

Not only does a coveted Blue Flag fly in the wind at Porthtowan but the waves are epic and there’s a fantastic pub on the beach to grab that post-surf hot chocolate.


Porthleven is one of the most renowned and respected breaks in the UK. It gets crowded quickly on a south westerly swell and when there’s a sniff of north easterly in the wind, but if you’ve mastered the basics, then this is the pace to seen!

Widemouth Bay

Stretching over a mile and a half, Widemouth Bay is the most popular surf break along the immediate coastline of Bude, with surfers of all abilities sharing the waves. This beach is perfect for learners, and is great for experienced surfers towards high tide. surf reports, surf forecasts & surfing photos

 Image by Cornish Wave


Here are Some Quick Tips on how best to stay warm winter-surfing in the Atlantic….

  1. Good Kit

The one key piece of kit you’ll need is Neoprene. If you want to enjoy those chilly waves, a 5mm suit is absolutely essential. Buy or hire the best you can, check for liquid-sealed seams, ideally go zipper-less and avoid struggling into a soaking wetsuit in a windy car park! Remember a good pair of boots, gloves and a hood too.

  1. Fuel Up!

Make sure you fuel yourself properly before heading out. Take on carbs, protein, and water. Be sure you’re warm before getting changed. Stretch and warm up before getting in the water so the blood is pumping right from the start.

  1. Pick the right Surfboard

Winter typically brings bigger and better waves, so pick something a little bigger and with more volume than your typical summer board.

  1. Just keep moving…

It’s really that simple, keep moving! The more you move and paddle, the warmer you’ll stay and remember, don’t stay out too long! Surfing in cold water is very tiring, as your body spends a lot of energy trying to stay warm. Always surf with a buddy then you can keep an eye on each other.

  1. The horrid bit – getting changed!

Getting changed after your session is probably the worst part of the whole experience. Organize your towel and clothes before getting in the water, so everything is at hand in the right order to pull on quickly.

  1. Another good bit – the post-surf high

The feeling warm bit is probably one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Wrap up, enjoy a flask of piping hot chocolate, then head to the pub for a pie and pint…wow, you’ll feel so good!

Happy Surfing from Cornish Seaview Cottages!

 Useful Links

KingSurf Surf School, Mawgan Porth

Newquay Watersports Centre, Newquay Harbour

Escape Surf School, Newquay

ElementalUK, Tolcarne Beach

Quicksilver Surf School, Fistral Beach

Blue Wings Surf School, Newquay

Harlyn Surf School

Fistral Beach Surf School

Freewave Surf Academy, Widemouth Bay

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